COMING LITIGATION — BYD, the Lancaster company that manufactured this 60-foot electric “articulated” bus made that is in service with the Antelope Valley Transit Authority, has been sued by Albuquerque, New Mexico.

LANCASTER —  The city of Albuquerque will take BYD Coach & Bus to court for failure to meet con­trac­tual obligations and de­liv­ering unsafe buses to the city, Mayor Tim Keller announced Friday.

The 739-page lawsuit comes after the city re­port­ed­ly encountered nu­mer­ous problems after the first few buses were delivered last October behind sched­ule, city officials said in a press release.

“We’ve exhausted our op­tions with BYD. We can’t wait on broken promises and missed deadlines any­more and now it’s our re­spon­sibility to hold them ac­countable,” Keller said in a statement. “We do not take this decision lightly – now it is our responsibility to ensure a clean break with BYD so the city can move on. Through the legal process, we will pro­fes­sionally dissolve this relationship.”

Albuquerque city of­ficials say they have tried work­ing with BYD Coach & Bus — a U.S. company that is a wholly owned sub­sid­iary of its Chinese cor­por­ate parent — but the company continued to fail to meet requirements set in the contract with the city including delays in the delivery of the buses, and incomplete cer­tif­ic­ation testing at the Lar­son Transportation In­stit­ute’s Bus Research and Test­ing Center, in Altoona, Penn­syl­vania. The city says the bus batteries run at only 177 miles on a sin­gle charge even though the contract requires 275 miles on a charge.

“As we work to move Al­buquerque toward an environmentally sus­tain­able future, it would have been a great step to have electric buses on the route, that’s one of the reasons we tried to make it work with BYD for a year,” Keller said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the tech­nol­ogy they promised simp­ly isn’t ready for this route. Our aim is to continue to even­tu­ally move all of our fleet vehicles to more sus­tain­able models as the tech­nol­ogy evolves. In the meantime, we are going to have to use more tra­di­tion­al clean fuel buses to get this project moving.”

The BYD buses were manufactured in Lan­cas­ter, which has an all-union workforce of 850 em­ploy­ees. In response to a request from the An­tel­ope Valley Press, BYD of­ficials sent the following statement:

“BYD once again dis­putes the mayor’s false and misleading state­ments regarding BYD and its products,” the state­ment said. “It is un­for­tun­ate that the city has chosen to file a law­suit. Prior to today’s press conference the city had refused to provide BYD with inspection re­ports documenting al­leged problems with the buses. The city has never stated the amount of damages it claims to have suffered. Although the city has terminated the contract inconsistent with its terms, BYD worked in good faith and at significant expense to re­move the buses by the city-imposed deadline. BYD is considering all legal options in response to the city’s actions.”

The city of Albuquerque purchased 18 buses from BYD for about $23 million for the Albuquerque Rapid Tran­sit service. BYD de­livered 15 buses. But the city did not pay for them.

According to a Nov. 16 statement from BYD the 60-foot articulated buses were delivered to Al­bu­quer­que in February. The city’s Transit Dis­trict inspectors spent months in­sert­ed into the man­u­fac­turing process at BYD’s Lan­caster plant.

“Those inspectors were in daily contact with their supervisors in Albuquerque who certified the buses for service on the Central Avenue cor­rid­or earlier this year,” the BYD statement said. “BYD worked tirelessly and in good faith with city officials to ensure its prod­ucts met their re­­quire­­ments. In our com­mit­ment to world-class cus­tomer ser­vice, BYD offered the city extended warranties, ad­di­tion­al electric battery char­ging equipment, and tech­nicians to ensure a smooth transition toward emis­sion-free public trans­portation.”

BYD said Keller never in­tend­ed to honor the con­tract, adding the mayor ad­mitted city transit officials have been working for many months with one of BYD’s competitors.

The city of Albuquerque released an independent report on Friday from the Center for Transportation and the Environment, which tested the buses’ batteries.

“CTE’s simulations found that the operational plan developed for ART – running the electric buses during the day, then recharging them over­night in preparation for the next day, could not be achieved by the buses BYD delivered to Al­bu­querque,” the city’s re­lease said.

According to Albu­quer­que city officials, the buses were not certified at the test­ing center in Altoona. The city’s mechanics re­viewed each of the buses for functionality safety, the city’s release said. The buses were found to have safe­ty issues including brake pressure issues, mul­tip­le door issues, cracked or missing welds that compromise the in­teg­rity of the buses, mal­fun­ctioning bridge plates for wheelchair accessibility, and exposed high voltage cables that create a risk of electrical fires, according to city officials.

The city sent the 15 buses back to BYD on Nov. 28. One bus was returned, and the city did not accept de­liv­ery of four buses, which remained at the Lan­caster plan.

Earlier this week Albu­quer­que city officials an­nounced they purchased 10 clean diesel buses from New Flyer of America at an approximate cost of $870,000 each. The 60-foot, articulated, five-door clean diesel buses were or­dered from an existing re­quest for proposal from 2016, said Rick DeReyes, a spokesman for the city of Albuquerque Transit De­part­ment, also known as ABQ Ride.

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